Queensland rings the changes for State of Origin Game III at unrestricted Lang Park, Blues name unchanged 17


Harry Grant’s breakout 2020 season will end in a State of Origin debut as Queensland take a much-changed team into next week’s series decider against NSW.

Grant, the Dally M and RLPA rookie of the year, is one of three changes to the Maroons’ line-up in the wake of their heavy 34-10 defeat to the Blues in Game II on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old, who starred on loan at Wests Tigers from Melbourne in the NRL season, is one of three changes to Queensland’s team as they aim to win their first series in three years.

Grant will start on the bench in the number 14 jersey, replacing Ben Hunt in the utility role with the St George Illawarra star dropping out of the 17.

South Sydney’s 22-year-old flier Corey Allan will also debut for the Maroons, replacing Phillip Sami on the left wing.

The other change made by Bennett is the return of Christian Welch at prop after he missed Game II to allow him to recover from a head knock.

Dunamis Lui drops to the bench to make way for Welch with Game II debutant Moeaki Fotuaika joining Hunt on the four-man reserves list along with Edrick Lee and Brenko Lee.

Melbourne premiership-winner Lee, who missed out on a debut in Game I after being a late scratching due a calf injury, could yet come into the 17 in place of Allan if he can prove his fitness at the Maroons’ training session on Sunday.

Cameron Munster is still being monitored after his concussion injury picked up in Game II.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Cameron Munster has been named at five-eighth but can only play if he passes NRL concussion protocols after being taken out of Game II in just the third minute due to a head knock.

Fullback Valentine Holmes said Munster had been his normal “lippy” self since Wednesday’s loss and deserved to be given every chance to prove his fitness for game three.

“He has played in grand finals, Origins, big games. He is someone we definitely need to have,” Holmes said.

“He is an experienced player in our team and in the leadership team.

“We need him on the field.”

The Maroons earlier received a huge boost from the Queensland Government who announced it would allow Lang Park to operate at its full capacity of 52,500 in the decider.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palasczcuk revealed on Friday her Government was easing several COVID-19 restrictions from 4:00pm Tuesday, including the limit on open-air stadiums to operate at 75 per cent capacity.

With the borders closed between NSW and Queensland, Blues’ fans will be in the minority at the venue, where NSW have won just twice since 2010.

“I think Queenslanders are going to be very, very happy with this outcome,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

Queensland has won 37 out of 58 games at Lang Park.

Nathan Cleary and Josh Addo-Carr hug as Tyson Frizell and Clint Gutherson look on after a NSW Blues try in State of Origin II.
The Blues are unchanged 1-17 after their resounding victory in Game II.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Meanwhile, New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has named an unchanged squad through 1-17 from the Blues’ resounding 34-10 victory in Sydney.

Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jarome Luai and Nic Cotric have been named on the extended bench.

Queensland Maroons squad: 1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Xavier Coates, 3. Kurt Capewell, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Allan, 6. Cameron Munster,7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8. Christian Welch, 9. Jake Friend, 10. Josh Papalii, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Jaydn Su’A, 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 14. Harry Grant, 15. Lindsay Collins, 16. Jai Arrow, 17. Dunamis Lui, 18. Ben Hunt, 19. Edrick Lee, 20. Moeaki Fotuaika, 21. Brenko Lee.

NSW Blues squad: 1. James Tedesco (c), 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Clint Gutherson, 4. Jack Wighton, 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cody Walker, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Payne Haas, 11. Angus Crichton, 12. Tyson Frizell, 13. Jake Trbojevic, 14. Dale Finucane, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Nathan Brown, 17. Isaah Yeo, 18. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 19. Jarome Luai, 20. Cameron McInnes, 21. Nic Cotric.

AAP/ABC



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CBA, Westpac cut fixed home loans but leave variable rates unchanged


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CBA’s interest rates on business loans, including those using the government’s small business loan guarantee scheme, would also be cut by up to 0.5 per cent.

Westpac similarly reduced its fixed interest small business loans by 0.56 per cent, for customers on three to five year terms. These rate changes will be effective from November 9, it said.

CBA’s retail banking executive Angus Sullivan said the RBA’s move to stimulate the economy would give borrowers confidence.

“Yesterday’s move by the RBA will lower the structure of interest rates and provide confidence that Australians can borrow over the long term at historically low rates,” he said.

“We have reflected this in our interest rate settings, offering customers our lowest ever fixed rate.”

Westpac’s consumer chief executive Richard Burton said Australia was in an “extraordinary period” of monetary policy and interest rate changes needed to be carefully managed.

“We recognise it has been a tough time for many Australian households, and these changes mean that customers will be able to access even lower interest rates on our home loan and small business loans,” he said.

While CBA was the first major bank to make the move, a suite of smaller lenders immediately responded to the cheaper flow of money.

Canstar released research on Tuesday showing fintech Athena, which specialises in home loans, reduced its variable rate by 0.15 per cent. Other smaller lenders cutting their variable rates include Pacific Mortgage Group and Homeloans.com.au, which reduced rates between 0.10 per cent and 0.16 per cent.



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Richmond and Geelong name unchanged teams for AFL grand final, Damien Hardwick and Chris Scott look back at 2020 season


On the eve of the AFL grand final, coaches of both participating teams have taken time to reflect on an incredible 2020 season.

Both the Tigers and Cats had the luxury of naming unchanged teams into the grand final, sticking with the same line-ups that brought them success in last weekend’s preliminary finals.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick and Geelong coach Chris Scott have both seen their teams face unique challenges on and off the field this year, including having to spend months away from home in AFL hubs.

Hardwick says he never doubted his club’s culture during a rocky campaign that has left them one win away from a third AFL premiership in four seasons.

The Tigers endured one of the biggest scandals of the 2020 season when young players Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were banished from Queensland in disgrace last month for breaking return-to-play protocols.

Further hurdles included allegations of inappropriate touching among teammates during the post-win song, staging controversies involving Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin, who were both cleared, and heat on Tom Lynch for a series of incidents that brought about match review officer scrutiny.

But the Tigers have held up on-field and find themselves narrow favourites to beat Geelong in the two sides’ first grand final meeting in more than half a century.

“The one thing we pride ourselves on is our culture and how we cope as an organisation,” Hardwick said.

“The one thing you can always say is your organisation is really defined by those bumps.

“It’s easy when the road is smooth and you can just sit there above the water, but you learn a lot about yourself and a lot about your people when times are tough.

“We went to work, we were disappointed, we accepted responsibility, but we learnt from it along the way.”

Richmond captain Trent Cotchin and Geelong captain Joel Selwood with the premiership cup.(AAP: Darren England)

Both Richmond and Geelong have spent well over 100 days based in interstate hubs to complete the season in the face of unprecedented challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cats left Victoria for Sydney in July before a three-week stint in Perth on the way to Queensland, where they have been based on the Gold Coast.

Several Geelong and Richmond players with families are sharing accommodation at Royal Pines, while the bulk of their travelling parties are based in separate hubs a few kilometres away.

“It was very, very difficult to predict when we jumped on a plane for Sydney over 100 days ago that we were still going to be away from home in time for the grand final,” Cats coach Chris Scott said.

“The teams and the players and the people that have just put one step in front of the other, have tended to be the ones that have sort of kept everything in perspective the best.”

Richmond were due to travel to Brisbane on Friday night as they treat the grand final as an away match, while Geelong will make the one-hour journey on game day.

ABC/AAP



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Western Force starting XV unchanged for Reds


In the only change to the match-day squad, lock Ollie Atkins, who returned to Perth in June, has been included on the bench in place of Johan Bardoul. Australian-born Atkins joined the Force from English club Exeter Chiefs where he spent the past four seasons and was part of the squad that reached four successive Premiership finals.

The 2m tall lock made two appearances for the Force in the 2012 Super Rugby season before moving to Edinburgh. He also represented Scotland A in 2014.

Sampson has kept faith with the players who did duty during last week’s 14-23 loss against the Waratahs and will be looking for a strong performance from his team against the Reds.

The Force made a strong start last week and held a 14-7 lead at half-time. Unfortunately, they faded in the final quarter and allowed the Waratahs back into the game.

The mend from Perth have a proud record against the Reds and will be looking to build on the many positives from last week as they look for their first Super Rugby AU victory.

The Reds will provide a stern test after kicking off their campaign with a 32-26 win over the Waratahs and playing to an 18-18 draw with the Rebels last week.

Both Sampson and captain Ian Prior are excited to be returning to Queensland for the hotly anticipated match-up.

“We have fond memories of Brisbane and Queensland rugby, so to go there and get a win over the Reds would certainly be a nice feeling, it adds a little bit of extra motivation,” said Sampson.

The skipper is expecting a fierce encounter on Friday night.

“Suncorp is a fantastic stadium to play at,” said Prior. “It’ll be special to play in front of family and friends again; I can’t wait to get out there.

“They’re coached by Brad Thorn who prides himself on physicality and energy. They’ve got a good group of young players that have been developing nicely, so it’ll be a challenge, but one we’re certainly looking forward to.”

Teams:

Reds

15 Jock Campbell, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright (captain), 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Scott-Young, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Harry Hoopert

Substitutes: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Jack Straker, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 21 Scott Malolua, 22 Josh Flook, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Western Force

15 Jack McGregor, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Nick Jooste, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Tevin Ferris, 6 Henry Stowers, 5 Fergus Lee Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Angus Wagner.

Substitutes: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ollie Atkins 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Jacob Abel, 22 Henry Taefy, 23 Kyle Godwin

– TEAMtalk media



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